November 5, 2007

The visit i made to Moscow in December 2001 was the occasion of Bourbonese Qualk’s last real performance, that is to say the last performance Miles Miles and i made together. We were asked to perform as part of the Foundry’s ‘TooMuch Spirit’ event at the DOM in Moscow. I don’t know why we were selected for this event, the cast list for the trip consisted of a select bunch of London artists, alcoholics, poets, psychotics, musicians…and us… I also used the trip as a chance to continue research on the (still ongoing) book on the history of electronic musical instruments by visiting Andrei Smirnov of the Termen Institute – the worlds expert on Russian Electronic Music – which included a trip to see the ANS Synthesiser (see previous post)

So far so good. what i hadn’t reckoned on was Miles’s revelation on arrival in Moscow that he was completely addicted to heroin (something he had previously kept quiet about) which meant that if he was to perform as a human being let alone as a musician he would need a regular supply of smack (purchased on terrifying visits to Chechnyan drug dealers). I also hadn’t reckoned on finding myself in the beginning of an unexpected mental breakdown and psychotic crisis (brought on by events i won’t go into here). No wonder people mistook us for Russians.


(image: Bourbonese Qualk. Moscow 2001. L-R: Miles Miles, Simon Crab)

The Bourbonese Qualk performance was, um, adequate considering the circumstances and possibly a little ambitious. Miles was hesitantly playing guitar and trumpet while i was manipulating his performance in real-time using a program i had written in ‘Super Collider‘. The software was a granular synthesis application that allowed me to loop, reverse, alter the pitch of the live sound and mix the resulting sound into a coherent stream*. ( Super Collider was the programming language we used extensively on the ‘On Uncertainty’ album).

Notable cast list:

(image: Gimpo. M25)

Gimpo. Foundry barman, bouncer and all round handyman. Gimpo was unusually and atypically well behaved in Russia. He even STOPPED a fight at a local restaurant where we were all thrown out for, um, various offenses. Gimpo spent an extended period in Belmarsh shortly after the Moscow trip for beating up two city boys who insisted that Gimpo let them join his Fight Club (in the Foundry basement). Now a completely rehabilitated born again Christian living in Brighton.


(image: Pete Doherty brushing his teeth. Moscow 2001)

Pete Doherty. Only included here in an attempt to boost stats – At the time ran the open-mike Sunday poetry night at the Foundry ( ” poor Poetry Pete, he’ll never get a girlfriend dressed like that!”) . Pete was arrested on the day of departure from Moscow for being a little too intimite with a girl in the foyer of a hotel – he was swiftly released and back on the bus when it turned out that the girl was a powerful generals daughter. Despite being repeatedly told otherwise Pete continued to labour under the impression that Miles and I were Russian.

Alexi Blimov. Is Russian. Alexi was supposed to perform with us with his ‘Laser-Theremin’ but, typically, never quite got it finished in time. On the way back he managed to smuggle a bomb shaped compressed liquid nitrogen container on to the plane – which impressed me.

Gavin Turk. Seemed quite civilised…was doing something about Che Guevara


(image: Dobrochna Giedwidz and Ivan Vele. Moscow 2001)

Dobrochna and Ivan. Good friends who saved my sanity despite Ivan’s vodka consumption and habit of picking fights with Russian soldiers

Jonathon Moberly. Foundry impresario. It was all his idea, all his fault.

*Recordings of this performance ended up as the last Bourbonese Qualk release ‘Moscow’ a 7″ vinyl record for the Austrian ‘Klanggallerie‘ label

One Response to “Moscow”

  1. Hello Simon,

    Talk about a dramatic post…I think a book must be written about your experiences with Bourbonese Qualk et al. I think the Moscow release quite beautiful, understated and haunting. I didn’t think you the type to get into fights though. You always seemed quiet, polite and restrained to me…gentlemanly. The visits to Chechen heroin addicts…yeesh. This beats Pulp Fiction…how about BQ Non-fiction…

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